Saturday, October 09, 2004

No Comment  

And Speaking Of Lies  

Kevin reports on a Bush whopper from last night.Read the post. It's got some dammning numbers and a very groovy chart, concluding:
Outside of the personal fantasyland Bush seems to inhabit, the truth is simple: spending of all kinds has skyrocketed under his administration and the Republican Congress. They've increased spending twice as fast as Clinton, three times as fast as Bush 1, and four times as fast as Carter. And remember: this doesn't include defense spending, entitlement spending, or homeland security. 9/11 and Medicare have nothing to do with it.

It's laughable for Bush to pretend to be a frugal spender, working his tail off to bring an out-of-control Clinton budget down to earth. He's spending our children's money as fast as he can print it, and debate fact checkers shouldn't let him get away with pretending otherwise.

October Surprise #2: Pissing On A Decorated Veteran In Prime Time  

The conservative-leaning Sinclair Broadcast Group, whose television outlets reach nearly a quarter of the nation's homes with TV, is ordering its stations to preempt regular programming just days before the Nov. 2 election to air a film that attacks Sen. John F. Kerry's activism against the Vietnam War, network and station executives familiar with the plan said Friday.

Sinclair's programming plan, communicated to executives in recent days and coming in the thick of a close and intense presidential race, is highly unusual even in a political season that has been marked by media controversies.

Sinclair has told its stations — many of them in political swing states such as Ohio and Florida — to air "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal," sources said. The film, funded by Pennsylvania veterans and produced by a veteran and former Washington Times reporter, features former POWs accusing Kerry — a decorated Navy veteran turned war protester — of worsening their ordeal by prolonging the war. Sinclair will preempt regular prime-time programming from the networks to show the film, which may be classified as news programming, according to TV executives familiar with the plan...

Station and network sources said they have been told the Sinclair stations — which include affiliates of Fox, ABC, CBS, NBC, as well as WB and UPN — will be preempting regular programming for one hour between Oct. 21 and Oct. 24, depending on the city. The airing of "Stolen Honor" will be followed by a panel discussion, which Kerry will be asked to join, thus potentially satisfying fairness regulations, the sources said.

Kerry campaign officials said they had been unaware of Sinclair's plans to air the film, and said Kerry had not received an invitation to appear...

...although broadcast stations are required to provide equal time to major candidates in an election campaign, the Sinclair move may not run afoul of those provisions if Kerry or a representative is offered time to respond. Moreover, several sources said Sinclair had told them it planned to classify the program as news, where the rules don't apply.
The filmmaker's previous work includes a Regnery-published work entitled "
Inquisition: The Persecution and Prosecution of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon." And, of course, he's been caught lying through his teeth:

Sherwood was disputing claims by VVAW member and Winter Soldier witness Kenneth J. Campbell on the September 9 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews. Campbell said that testimony by him and other Winter Soldier witnesses formed the factual basis for Senator John Kerry's 1971 testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. When Sherwood attempted to discredit the Winter Soldier investigation, Campbell defended himself and the other veterans who testified:

SHERWOOD: And as far as what Ken said, everything that came from the Winter Soldiers hearing has been utterly discredited through volumes and volumes of books and not one...

CAMPBELL: That's untrue.


There was only one person in the Vietnam Vets Against the War that was uncovered as having been a sergeant when he said he was a captain. Otherwise, the rest of the folks, we all brought our DD-214s [a document issued to military members upon separation from active service] that day. I brought mine today, in case you challenged my credibility. And we were not frauds. And we did do or see or participate in what we said we did.

As MMFA has previously documented, conservative historian Guenter Lewy claimed in his 1978 book, America in Vietnam, that a Naval Investigative Service report into the Winter Soldier allegations had discredited many of the witnesses and accounts, and in some cases impostors had assumed the identities of real veterans who were not present at the investigation. But Naval Criminal Investigative Service public affairs specialist Paul O'Donnell told (registration required) the Chicago Tribune: "We have not been able to confirm the existence of this report, but it's also possible that such records could have been destroyed or misplaced." And Lewy himself admitted to The Baltimore Sun that "he does not recall if he saw a copy of the naval investigative report or was briefed on its contents." Apart from Lewy's allegations, a search by MMFA turned up no other reports of evidence that any Winter Soldier witness was an impostor.

Was Jeb Bush In Charge? Katherine Harris?  

Afghanistan votes:
All 15 of President Hamid Karzai's rivals said they were withdrawing from the election because systems to prevent illegal multiple voting had gone awry. The move effectively left Karzai as the only candidate in the fray.

Election officials nevertheless refused to halt the process, which appeared to have gone smoothly across the rugged Islamic nation despite fears that many Afghans would be too afraid to participate.

Your Tax Dollars At Work  

Just in case you think the Bush administration knows good science when they see it, they've been wasting our hard-earned money trying to prove that prayers actually can heal:
Critics express outrage that the federal government, which has contributed $2.3 million in financing over the last four years for prayer research, would spend taxpayer money to study something they say has nothing to do with science.

"Intercessory prayer presupposes some supernatural intervention that is by definition beyond the reach of science," said Dr. Richard J. McNally, a psychologist at Harvard. "It is just a nonstarter, in my opinion, a total waste of time and money..."

"Placebo Effect in Distant Healing of Wounds," doctors at California Pacific Medical Center, a major hospital in San Francisco, inflict a tiny stab wound on the abdomens of women receiving breast reconstruction surgery, with their consent, and then determine whether the "focused intention" of a variety of healers speeds the wound's healing.

Two large trials of the effects of prayer on coronary health are currently under review at prominent medical journals.

Even those who defend prayer research concede that such studies are difficult. For one thing, no one knows what constitutes a "dose": some studies have tested a few prayers a day by individual healers, while others have had entire congregations pray together. Some have involved evangelical Christians; others have engaged rabbis, Buddhist and New Age healers, or some combination.

Another problem concerns the mechanism by which prayer might be supposed to work. Some researchers contend that prayer's effects - if they exist - have little to do with religion or the existence of God. Instead of divine intervention, they propose things like "subtle energies," "mind-to-mind communication" or "extra dimensions of space-time" - concepts that many scientists dismiss as nonsense. Others suggest that prayer may have a soothing effect that works like a placebo for believers who know they are being prayed for...

"There's no way to put God to the test, and that's exactly what you're doing when you design a study to see if God answers your prayers," said the Rev. Raymond J. Lawrence Jr., director of pastoral care at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center. "This whole exercise cheapens religion, and promotes an infantile theology that God is out there ready to miraculously defy the laws of nature in answer to a prayer."

Kerry's Plan And "Kerry Agreements"  

There's some terrific information in a new NY Times magazine article about the effectiveness and intelligence of John Kerry. But first you must read 3,972 words (yes, I counted them) of Matt Bai's faux-thoughtful/balanced New Yorker-style imitation prose , including 210 words of analysis of Kerry's taste in mineral waters and an embarassing personal tale about the time an exasperated Kerry terminated an interview with Bai when he apparently couldn't stop asking repetitive, dumb questions . Thanks for sharing, Matt.

But, finally! Kerry is given an opportunity to address the charge Bai repeatedly (and unoriginally) makes: Kerry doesn't have a plan for combatting terrorism.
''I think we can do a better job,'' Kerry said, ''of cutting off financing, of exposing groups, of working cooperatively across the globe, of improving our intelligence capabilities nationally and internationally, of training our military and deploying them differently, of specializing in special forces and special ops, of working with allies, and most importantly -- and I mean most importantly -- of restoring America's reputation as a country that listens, is sensitive, brings people to our side, is the seeker of peace, not war, and that uses our high moral ground and high-level values to augment us in the war on terror, not to diminish us.''
Jeez, that sure sounds like a plan to me.

But details about Kerry's plan are scarce, not because of anything Kerry has or hasn't said but simply because Bai doesn't have enough Ritalin in his system to focus for more than 15 seconds on what Kerry is saying. No, Bai wants to be the next Tom Friedman, go for the big picture, and pontificate on subjects he is intellectually incapable of understanding.

Eventually, though, Bai stops trying to understand anything and sticks to straight reporting and that's pretty good stuff. For those not familiar with Kerry's extraordinary record in the Senate, you'll learn something very, very important. I've edited out some of Bai's snottier irrlevant asides:
. Beginning in the late 80's, Kerry's Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Operations investigated and exposed connections between Latin American drug dealers and BCCI, the international bank that was helping to launder drug money. That led to more investigations of arms dealers, money laundering and terrorist financing.

Kerry turned his work on the committee into a book on global crime, titled ''The New War,'' published in 1997... [W]hen I spoke to Kerry in August, he said that many of the interdiction tactics that cripple drug lords, including governments working jointly to share intelligence, patrol borders and force banks to identify suspicious customers, can also be some of the most useful tools in the war on terror.

''Of all the records in the Senate, if you don't mind my saying, I think I was ahead of the curve on this entire dark side of globalization,'' he said. ''I think that the Senate committee report on contras, narcotics and drugs, et cetera, is a seminal report. People have based research papers on it. People have based documents on it, movies on it. I think it was a significant piece of work.''

...[T]hrough his BCCI investigation, Kerry did discover that a wide array of international criminals -- Latin American drug lords, Palestinian terrorists, arms dealers -- had one thing in common: they were able to move money around through the same illicit channels. And he worked hard, and with little credit, to shut those channels down.
That sounds like a truly effective man doing important work, nothing like the rightwing propaganda that passes for conventional wisdom.

But wait, there's more:
In 1988, Kerry successfully proposed an amendment that forced the Treasury Department to negotiate so-called Kerry Agreements with foreign countries. Under these agreements, foreign governments had to promise to keep a close watch on their banks for potential money laundering or they risked losing their access to U.S. markets. Other measures Kerry tried to pass throughout the 90's, virtually all of them blocked by Republican senators on the banking committee, would end up, in the wake of 9/11, in the USA Patriot Act; among other things, these measures subject banks to fines or loss of license if they don't take steps to verify the identities of their customers and to avoid being used for money laundering.
Sounds to me that when Kerry says he supports the Patriot Act but it needs to be refined and focused, he means exactly what he says. And he's consistent.

But Bai then starts to get a little clever and winds up penning a genuine whopper:
Through his immersion in the global underground, Kerry made connections among disparate criminal and terrorist groups that few other senators interested in foreign policy were making in the 90's.
Wha? Kerry had connections with terrorist groups? Who knew? No wonder he's Osama's candidate, right? Well, um, no.

Bai's just an inexcusably sloppy thinker. He meant to write
Through his extensive study of global terrorism, Kerry saw connections among disparate criminal and terrorist groups that few other senators interested in foreign policy could see in the 90's.
Fortunately, Bai goes back to straight reporting and we learn Kerry has earned praise from Richard Clarke, one of the most qualified (and vitriolic) critics of government inaction on terrorism around:
Richard A. Clarke, who coordinated security and counterterrorism policy for George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, credits Kerry with having seen beyond the national-security tableau on which most of his colleagues were focused. ''He was getting it at the same time that people like Tony Lake were getting it, in the '93 -'94 time frame,'' Clarke says, referring to Anthony Lake, Clinton's national security adviser. ''And the 'it' here was that there was a new nonstate-actor threat, and that nonstate-actor threat was a blended threat that didn't fit neatly into the box of organized criminal, or neatly into the box of terrorism. What you found were groups that were all of the above.''
And let's sum it up:
In other words, Kerry was among the first policy makers in Washington to begin mapping out a strategy to combat an entirely new kind of enemy. Americans were conditioned, by two world wars and a long standoff with a rival superpower, to see foreign policy as a mix of cooperation and tension between civilized states [not mentioned by Bai: as the neocons and future Bushites did and still do]. Kerry came to believe, however, that Americans were in greater danger from the more shadowy groups he had been investigating -- nonstate actors, armed with cellphones and laptops -- who might detonate suitcase bombs or release lethal chemicals into the subway just to make a point. They lived in remote regions and exploited weak governments. Their goal wasn't to govern states but to destabilize them.
But then, once again, poor clueless Bai steps in it:
The challenge of beating back these nonstate actors -- not just Islamic terrorists but all kinds of rogue forces -- is what Kerry meant by ''the dark side of globalization.'' He came closest to articulating this as an actual foreign-policy vision in a speech he gave at U.C.L.A. last February. ''The war on terror is not a clash of civilizations,'' he said then. ''It is a clash of civilization against chaos, of the best hopes of humanity against dogmatic fears of progress and the future.''
Actually, Matt, he didn't come close to articulating a foreign-policy vision. He did, and he has.

And he will implement that articulation come this January.

Just For The Record  

LA Times At The Bottom Of Their Game. Here's how their editorial about last night leads off:
Bill Clinton was a rarity — the smartest kid in the class with whom everyone wanted to hang out. John Kerry is no Bill Clinton. The senator comes across as the smartest kid in the class, but a recent Zogby poll shows that only 9% of Americans would prefer to have a beer with him rather than President Bush.
Who gives a damn?

But for the record, put me in that 9% any day. I despise sloppy drunks.

Kerry 2, Bush 0 (or less)  

I just finished reading the transcript of the latest debate. In reverse emulation of Cokie Roberts, who says she watched the first debate without sound, I've decided to focus entirely on the substance of what the two candidates said and therefore, I didn't watch or hear them. I've only read their words. I'll leave to others to decode their gestures, grimaces, and hairstyles (not to disparage that, but I just don't care that much how they appeared).

Some fast impressions:

1. Kerry creamed Bush. It wasn't even close. While Bush was slightly better, Kerry has truly grown between the two debates. Kerry thoroughly rebutted every Bush charge and countercharge, and his account of Bush's record was accurate, and damning. Bush was so far out of Kerry's league that he was unable to effectively answer, or even hear, what Kerry was saying. The exchange on the ban on the D&X procedure was telling (in the transcript I've substituted the heavily biased right wing terminology with [D&X procedure], which is the correct medical term):
Mr. Kerry Well, again, the president just said categorically my opponent's against this, my opponents against that. You know, it's just not that simple. No, I'm not. I'm against the [D&X procedure], but you've got to have an exception for the life of the mother and the health of the mother under the strictest test of bodily injury to the mother.

Secondly, with respect to parental notification, I'm not going to require a 16- or 17-year-old kid who's been raped by her father and who's pregnant to have to notify her father. So you've got to have a judicial intervention. And because they didn't have a judicial intervention where she could go somewhere and get help I voted against it. It's never quite as simple as the president wants you to believe.

Mr. Gibson And 30 seconds, Mr. President.

Mr. Bush It's pretty simple when they say are you for a ban on [D&X procedure]? Yes or no. And he was given a chance to vote. And he voted no. And that's just the way it is. That's the vote. It came right up. It's clear for everybody to see. And as I said, you can run but you can't hide. It's reality.
He didn't vote against a ban on the d&x procedure. He voted against a lousy, poorly written bill that allowed no judicial oversight and didn't make exceptions for the mother's life. A bill that would have increased suffering, not prevented it. Kerry was clear. Bush ignored what Kerry said or, more likely, couldn't understand a very simple nuance.

2. Kerry's greatest moment, and Bush's worst, was regarding science. Here is Kerry at his best. I don't know what it looked like, but there's genuine passion in these words, and simple eloquence:
Q. Senator Kerry, thousands of people have already been cured or treated by the use of adult stem cells or umbilical-cord stem cells. However, no one has been cured by using embryonic stem cells. Wouldn't it be wise to use stem cells obtained without the destruction of an embryo?

Mr. Kerry: You know, Elizabeth, I really respect your, the feeling that's in your question. I understand it. I know the morality that's prompting that question and I respect it enormously.

But like Nancy Reagan and so many other people - you know, I was at a forum with Michael J. Fox the other day in New Hampshire, who's suffering from Parkinson's. And he wants us to do stem cell, embryonic stem cell. And this fellow stood up and he was quivering. His whole body was shaking from the nerve disease, the muscular disease that he had. And he said to me and to the whole hall, he said, you know, don't take away my hope because my hope is what keeps me going.

Chris Reeves is a friend of mine. Chris Reeves exercises every single day to keep those muscles alive for the day when he believes he can walk again. And I want him to walk again.

I think we can saves lives. Now I think we can do ethically guided embryonic stem cell research. We have 100,000 to 200,000 embryos that are frozen in nitrogen today from fertility clinics. These weren't taken from abortion or something like that. They're from a fertility clinic. And they're either going to be destroyed or left frozen.

And I believe if we have the option, which scientists tell us we do, of curing Parkinson's, curing diabetes, curing some kind of a, you know, paraplegic or quadriplegic or a spinal cord injury, anything, that's the nature of the human spirit. I think it is respecting life to reach for that cure. I think it is respecting life to do it in an ethical way.

And the president's chosen a policy that makes it impossible for our scientists to do that. I want the future and I think we have to grab it.
By contrast, check Bush out:
Mr. Bush: Embryonic stem cell research requires the destruction of life to create a stem cell. I'm the first president ever to allow funding, federal funding, for embryonic stem cell research. I did so because I, too, hope that we'll discover cures from the stem cells and from the research derived.

But I think we've got to be very careful in balancing the ethics and the science. And so I made the decision we wouldn't spend any more money beyond the 70 lines, 22 of which are now in action. Because science is important, but so's ethics. So's balancing life.
This, folks, is the real George Bush, a man not only ignorant of reality, but also incapable of reasoning his way back to reality. Out of his sheer cluelessness, he has constructed a false dichotomy between science and ethics. Worse, he clearly implies that science is not ethical. Even worse, he implies that science is anti-life. There are millions of scientists in this country. There are millions more who respect science and scientific reason. None of these could listen to such an idiotic answer and not be utterly appalled.

I marked up my copy of the transcript and maybe I'll look at some more later. Right now, happily, I have to go out to watch my daughter at Little League. Let me summarize what I found:

Bush's answers were boilerplate and usually vacuous. They were nothing but lies, distortions, evasions, misstatements, and his discourse was littered with the kind of mistakes the rightwing likes to rail against when people of the "wrong" ethnic group make them.

On the other hand, Kerry's answers were accurate, usually to the point, and intelligently phrased, when they weren't more than that. The only answer that was less than superb was on the environment. But I really can't blame him. Bush had outdone even himself, quite a feat, in lying and distorting his environmental record. Who, in Kerry's place, wouldn't have been shocked speechless?

In short, the choice is obvious. A smart, intelligent President Kerry. Or four more years of ignorance,wasted soldiers' lives, and incompetence under George Bush.

(By the way, did you notice how many times Bush said Kerry's name, or even called him senator? I count once: he was "my opponent." Kerry, of course, never called Bush that, just "president." In his final remarks Kerry said he respected the president's strong convictions. In Bush's summary, Kerry didn't exist. Nor did anyone else.)

Friday, October 08, 2004

Quote Of The Day  

Molly IvinsSometimes, I get the feeling the whole country is being run by Paris Hilton.

Apple Porn  

After three years of being synonymous with "digital music player," Apple's iPod will widen its horizons and gain photo-viewing capabilities within the next 30 to 60 days, highly reliable sources tell Think Secret.

The new iPod, which will sit at the top of Apple's fourth-generation line-up, will pack Toshiba's new 60GB 1.8-inch hard drive, a 2-inch color liquid crystal display, iPhoto synchronization, audio/video-out capabilities, and will sell for $499...

he new iPod's form factor will be identical to the existing 4G iPods, sources report, but will be two millimeters thicker than the current 40GB iPod and marginally heavier.

The 2-inch color screen is identical in size to other iPods, but will sport a higher resolution for photo viewing. However, the new device's real shining feature will be its video-out port, which will enable users to tote their photo galleries with them, ready to be plugged into any television for big-screen viewing.

The 60GB iPod will feature only rudimentary built-in software for viewing photos, with no editing tools, sources say. Photo albums will be navigated in a similar fashion to music playlists, and a slideshow feature will provide transitions with user-specified background music, similar to iPhoto. Synchronizing features similar to iTunes will also be added to iPhoto.

The new iPod won't feature built-in flash memory stick slots for downloading photos from digital cameras, although such a feature will presumably be able to be employed through Belkin's $99 Media Reader.

Sources indicate that Apple will market the new photo iPod as being capable of storing 20,000 music tracks and 25,000 photos. As an added bonus for music fans, album artwork will be displayed on screen when it's available for a selected track.

Ain't This Like Totally "Dog Bites Man?"  

Headline from the NY Times: In New Attacks, Bush Pushes Limit on the Facts

What Zeynep Says  

How come no one is still listening?
So it goes. Parts of the anti-war movement had long ago pointed out most everything that has been "revealed" with great fanfare over the past year or two -- everything from the bogus Niger documents to the limitations of the aluminum tubes cited by Powell before his U.N. speech. However, we don't seem to be able to make inroads into the general popular conciousness just because we were right then, and just because every passing day proves how right we really were. (Here are a few examples I chose because they are lengthy compilations: here's a thorough debunking of Bush's speech in Cincinnati on October 7, 2002 (everything from aluminum tubes to Al Qaeda connections is shredded); Here's a detailed analysis of the State of the "Niger" Union speech published the day after --pointing out most everything the media would 'discover' much later.)

This is a serious and entrenched problem we face, one we must find a way to overcome if we are to free the monopoly the warmongers have on general public conciousness.

Malicious Liberals Claim Job Creation Decline Means Job Creation Decline  

Bad news:
The September job-creation total came in below Wall Street economists' forecasts for 148,000 new jobs. Four hurricanes swept through the Southeast during August and September, which Labor said likely held down employment growth "but not enough to change materially" its estimate of September jobs.

Labor also said that, according to preliminary estimates, the economy added about 236,000 more jobs than previously thought in the year ended March 2004 and it will incorporate the change into benchmark revisions it issues next February.

As a result after including the projected change, it appears that about 585,000 jobs have been lost since President Bush took office in January 2001.

The Odds  

Courtesy Bill Bennett Memorial Betting Parlor, who compiled the stats.

Probability that:

Tonight's debate will be cancelled due to "national emergency" .15

Next debate will be cancelled due to "national emergency" if Kerry clearly wins tonight .95

Bush will storm off the stage in a fury before the debate ends .20

Bush will grimace and smirk .37

Bush will not lose his temper .50

Bush will blatantly lie either about Kerry, the economy, or taxes 1.00

Bush will blatantly lie about all three, above 1.00

Either candidate will mention Abu Ghraib .025

Either candidate will mention Guantanamo .015

Bush will repeat bogus figure of 10 million Afghans registered to vote .95

Kerry will correct bogus Afghan figures .50

Bush will mention Kerry by name more than twice .0005

Kerry will call Bush "my opponent" or "Mr. Bush" rather than "the President" more than twice .0005

Kerry will mention Herbert Hoover in context of job loss .85

Bush will describe the net job losses of the past four years as "job growth" .99

Bush will charge Kerry with "class warfare" by proposing that wealthy pay their fair share .90

Kerry will get overly technical in explaining why "class warfare" is a fallacious charge .50

Bush will win on the substance .00

Bush will win on style and persuasiveness .50

TV Pundits will call the debate for Bush if he lies but doesn't smirk or get visibly angry .90

TV Pundits will call the debate for Kerry if he tells the truth but uses the word a word like "aggrandize" even once .01

Bush will mention 9/11 and the speech at Ground Zero on 9/12 1.00

The neglect of the country's security by Bush before 9/11 will be mentioned .00003

Bush will actually use the words "flip-flop" to describe Kerry's position on issue X . 60

Bush's Texas drawl and "aw shucks" mannerisms will get more pronounced .75

Bush will invoke some God-esque imagery 1.00

Kerry will mention God, other than in closing .60

Bush will make a surprise announcement that Osama has been captured or killed .11

Kerry will compare Bush to Nixon .20

Kerry will layout a plan for issue x, Bush will say he doesn't have a plan, pundits will agree with Bush .99

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Michael Moore: Luckiest Man In The World  

Michigan GOP wants to indict Michael Moore.

Y'know, no matter how much you spend, you just can't buy publicity that doubleplus good.

Just In Case You Thought Modern Quantum Was Mystical Hoohah  

Proof positive that under some circumstances, time does indeed run backwards.

via Atrios.

Dylan Nominated For A Nobel Prize?  

Huh? I was sure he already had one.

Y'learn something new everyday, I suppose.

Once Again, Obligatory Debate Question Proposal  

To George Bush:

Considering all the trouble you've caused the world, why don't you just pack up and go home?

Cheney Is Indeed Demented  

Matt Yglesias gets it, finally.

As I wrote on September 2, Cheney's cognitive apparatus is majorly askew::
...contrary to the popular opinion that he is rather astute, Cheney's ability to process information is seriously, indeed dangerously, impaired. Even the simplest ideas and thoughts are beyond his means to grasp. Put another way, his brain's ability to comprehend the world is majorly on the fritz and probably has been for quite a while (recall how Cheney's incompetent analysis left Halliburton holding the asbestos bag if you need some convincing).

Now, some of you might argue that Cheney is both cognitively unsound AND a cynical, sleazy politician prepared to say or do anything in his overweening lust for power. But most sleazy politicians aren't stupid. Most are certainly smart enough not to try something like Cheney's sensitivity stunt [ie, Cheney's attack on Kerry for using the word "sensitive"]. Why? Because it's just too easy to check the facts and the erstwhile sleazebag merely looks like a paranoid, incompetent fool who can't parse a simple English sentence.

And so, my friends, I conclude that Cheney is not your typical slimeball. Cheney simply has no idea how seriously flawed is his ability to digest information and respond in a sensible, realistic fashion. He doesn't pull stuff out of context deliberately. He is compelled, by his brain's failure to process information properly, to misunderstand nearly everything that he hears and reads. Thus, deficits are proven not to matter, the Bush tax cuts are growing the economy, invading Iraq is a smart idea, and Kerry said he wants us to wage a sensitive war to impress al Qaeda.

Moving In The Right Direction  

But it's nowhere near enough, folks.
Great news! A just-released AP poll has Kerry taking a small lead over Bush.

The poll shows Bush's support "tumbling" on "personal qualities, the war in Iraq, and the commander in chief's bedrock campaign issue — national security."

Before the Video Was Touched Up  

From an email from MSS.

From A Friend  

Received in the mail today:
Just got this from a friend who reads the New York Law Journal regularly.


I've never heard about this one before. It's very disturbing.


The following is a news brief from the New York Law Journal from a few days ago.  Many people don't know about these Bush-Ashcroft regulations.  Apparently, the administration doesn't want Americans to read what Cubans or Iranians are thinking about us until after we've crushed their regimes. 


Suit Seeks to Halt Law Restricting Some Foreign Authors

Groups representing authors and publishers filed a federal lawsuit yesterday to void Treasury Department rules that impose limits on the U.S. publication of works written by authors in nations subject to U.S. trade embargoes. The Southern District suit asks Judge Richard C. Casey to enjoin regulations that limit the publication of works written by authors in countries such as Iran, Cuba or Sudan. The regulations also bar U.S. publishers from enhancing completed works or promoting them. The restrictions also bar publishers from commissioning new works or arranging for co-authorships, standard practices in the publishing industry, said the plaintiffs' lawyer, Edward J. Davis of Davis Wright & Tremaine. The rules, issued by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, also bar publishers from adding introductions, illustrations or footnotes to works published in the U.S., he said. According to a Treasury Department fact sheet, an April ruling approved the use of peer review and copy editing on works from embargoed nations published here. The plaintiffs claim that the restrictions violate an exception from trade embargoes for informational materials created by Congress in 1988 as well as free speech rights. The plaintiffs include the 2,500-member Pen American Center and the Professional/Scholarly Division of the Association of American Publishers. — Daniel Wise
I do not subscribe to New York Law Journal, so can't verify it, but the friend who emailed this to me is highly reliable. This link seems to be related to the case.

Political Hate Speech And Hate Acts  

A gop headquarters near South Knox Bubba was shot up recently, no one knows by whom.

Another blogger accused SKB of "contributing indirectly" to the shooting. I guess he had in mind the way Limbaugh contributed indirectly to the Oklahoma City attacks of Mr. McVeigh and friends.

The AP report of the incident has some interesting quotes:
A Bush-Cheney yard sign pierced by a bullet was salvaged from the broken glass on the floor and proudly hung on a campaign office wall.

``A .32 (caliber) maybe, if I would guess,'' state legislative candidate Stacey Campfield said, trying to gauge the bullet.

``Stuff like this galvanizes people,'' he said.
Indeed it does.
Tindell said Bush-Cheney supporters lined up two-deep to get campaign material after the shooting.
Translated, boys and girls:

If anyone who opposes Bush's awful presidency did this, you are a fool. You're just increasing support for him and you're intimidating no one. And you should be arrested, caught,

If a Bush supporter did this, you are acting the way those Americans most fearful of another four years of Bush are afraid you would act. You absolutely will be caught, tried, and sentenced. And your cause, let alone your life/career, permanently ruined.

If some apolitical drunken jerks did this (by far, the most likely scenario), I don't need to say any more. You will have to endure your miserable lives. That is, by far, much worse than the worst punishment I could imagine.

Heaven Or Hell, Makes No Difference To Me  

Just send me where she's going.

I saw PJ at the Hammerstein Ballroom in NY last night. Tonight she'll be there again. Go.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Business School Profs Flunk Bush  

Yesterday, I wrote about a letter sent by 150 profs from top B schools to Bush criticizing his policies. Oddly, there was no link either to the letter or the article in the NY Times. Well, MaxSpeak found the letter, and it's a doozy. Here's the beginning:
As professors of economics and business, we are concerned that U.S. economic policy has taken a dangerous turn under your stewardship. Nearly every major economic indicator has deteriorated since you took office in January 2001. Real GDP growth during your term is the lowest of any presidential term in recent memory. Total non-farm employment has contracted and the unemployment rate has increased. Bankruptcies are up sharply, as is our dependence on foreign capital to finance an exploding current account deficit. All three major stock indexes are lower now than at the time of your inauguration. The percentage of Americans in poverty has increased, real median income has declined, and income inequality has grown.

The data make clear that your policy of slashing taxes – primarily for those at the upper reaches of the income distribution – has not worked. The fiscal reversal that has taken place under your leadership is so extreme that it would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.
Then, the letter gets really angry.

Hat tip to Atrios.

Iraq: The Fulfillment of A John Birch Dream  

That's right. UN employees want to pull out of Iraq.

Feith Assistant Lawyers Up For Possible Serious Espionage Charge  

Laura Rozen
As we reported here a few days ago, via the New York Sun, Larry Franklin has fired his court-appointed attorney. Today, we learn from the LA Times, that Franklin has stopped cooperating with the FBI, and has rejected a plea agreement on lesser charges. And he's hired Plato Cacheris as his new attorney.
Laura quotes the LA Times as saying:
Cacheris has represented a number of accused turncoats, including CIA operative Aldrich H. Ames, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1994 after confessing to years of spying for the Soviet Union. Cacheris also represented former FBI counterintelligence agent Robert P. Hanssen, also convicted of passing secrets to the Soviets, who received a life sentence in 2002.
Sounds like Franklin is in the best of hands.

He Even Lied About What The Real FactCheck Said  

Man oh man. So Cheney implied that a blog named "" defended his record at Halliburton. Well, as the world now knows, Cheney meant to say

Not that it matters, cause Cheney out and out lied about what said about him. Jeanne d'Arc has the details.

And The Truth Leaks Out  

Yesterday, we learned that Viceroy Bremer wanted, but did not get, more troops when he first arrived on the scene. Today, WaPo has this to add:
The government's most definitive account of Iraq's arms programs, to be released today, will show that Saddam Hussein posed a diminishing threat at the time the United States invaded and did not possess, or have concrete plans to develop, nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, U.S. officials said yesterday.

The officials said that the 1,000-page report by Charles A. Duelfer, the chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq, concluded that Hussein had the desire but not the means to produce unconventional weapons that could threaten his neighbors or the West. President Bush has continued to assert in his campaign stump speech that Iraq had posed "a gathering threat."

The officials said Duelfer, an experienced former United Nations weapons inspector, found that the state of Hussein's weapons-development programs and knowledge base was less advanced in 2003, when the war began, than it was in 1998, when international inspectors left Iraq.
USA Today adds:
An extensive U.S. investigation has found that Iraq destroyed virtually all its chemical and biological munitions in 1991, a dozen years before President Bush ordered U.S. troops to invade based largely on the alleged threat posed by those weapons...

The basic conclusion of the report — that Iraq had no stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons and a moribund nuclear weapons development effort — strengthens the preliminary findings of Duelfer's predecessor, David Kay, and undercuts the main Bush administration argument for war. A weapons inspection team that at one point included 1,500 members conducting field searches, document examinations and interrogations did uncover evidence that Iraq wanted to develop improved missiles. But none of the Scud missiles the Bush administration alleged Saddam was hoarding has been found.
Oh, the report also said that Saddam was planning to plan to revive WMD reserach once sanctions were lifted. The problem with that argument is that it addresses a non-issue: the sanctions would never be lifted as long as Saddam was around. For prior to Bush's stupidity of March 2003, sanctions were refocused and tightened:
In the run-up to war last year, some in Washington acknowledged the impact of inspections and sanctions but believed that sanctions would soon collapse. Kenneth Pollack reiterated this argument in a January 2004 article in The Atlantic Monthly, insisting that war was necessary because "containment would not have lasted much longer" and Saddam "would eventually have reconstituted his WMD programs." Support for sanctions did indeed begin to unravel in the late 1990s. But beginning in 2001, the Bush administration launched a major diplomatic initiative that succeeded in reforming sanctions and restoring international resolve behind a more focused embargo on weapons and weapons-related imports.

One major reason for this renewed consensus was the creation of a new "smart" sanctions regime. The goal of "smart" sanctions was to focus the system more narrowly, blocking weapons and military supplies without preventing civilian trade. This would enable the rehabilitation of Iraq's economy without allowing rearmament or a military build-up by Saddam. Secretary of State Colin Powell launched a concerted diplomatic effort to build support for reformulating sanctions, and, in the negotiations over the proposed plan, agreed to release holds that the United States had placed on oil-for-food contracts, enabling civilian trade contracts to flow to Russia, China, and France. Restrictions on civilian imports were lifted while a strict arms embargo remained in place, and a new system was created for monitoring potential dual-use items. As the purpose of sanctions narrowed to preventing weapons imports without blocking civilian trade, international support for them increased considerably: "smart" sanctions removed the controversial humanitarian issue from the debate, focusing coercive pressure in a way that everyone could agree on. The divisions within the Security Council that had surfaced in the late 1990s gave way to a new consensus in 2002. The pieces were in place for a long-term military containment system. The new sanctions resolution restored political consensus in the Security Council and created an arms-denial system that could have been sustained indefinitely. [Emphasis added.]
So once again, more proof that Bush lied and misled this country into war. And the administration is doing their level best to cover up the truth even now. But let's be fair. Let's put this into the proper perspective. As I posted this, the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count has a total of 1064 US Military fatalities listed. Had Bush and Cheney not lied, had the press not turned their eyes, had the liberal hawks not lost their senses, those people would be alive. As would literally countless coalition members, Iraqis, and others.

Advantage: Edwards  

Dick Cheney is a man afflicted with verbal halitosis; everything he says is foul and repellent. After about 45 hours of enduring his lies (well, it felt like 45 hours), I decided to tune out. I read the transcripts excerpted this morning in The Times and it is truly amazing how many lies that man can tell in the space of a minute. On substance, Edwards won.

Now by accident, the GOP mailed Republican talking point marching orders to the everyone in the press. The professional propagandists were told this:
We will be sending more talking points later this evening, but the decisive line by Vice President Cheney during the debate was the following:

"So they, in effect, decided they would cast an anti-war vote, and they voted against the troops. Now, if they couldn't stand up to the pressures that Howard Dean represented, how can we expect them to standup to Al Qaeda?"
And sure enough, both William Kristol and Rich Lowry annointed the officially chosen talking point as the best line. So did Candy Crowley of CNN.

If the media were honest, these three people would never be seen on TV again.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

How Kerry Reacts In A Crisis  

Digby reprints this amazing true story:
Former U.S. Sen. Chic Hecht of Nevada is a staunch Republican, but he thanks his lucky stars for Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.

On July 12, 1988, Hecht was attending a weekly Republican luncheon when a piece of apple lodged firmly in his throat.

Hecht stumbled out of the room, thinking he might vomit but not wanting to do it in front of his colleagues. Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., thumped his back, but Hecht quickly passed out in the hallway.

Just then, Kerry stepped off an elevator, rushed to Hecht's side and gave him the Heimlich maneuver -- four times.

The lifesaving incident made international news, and Dr. Henry Heimlich, who invented the maneuver in 1974, called Hecht to say that had Kerry intervened just 30 seconds later Hecht might have been in a vegetative state for life.

"This man gave me my life," the 75-year-old Hecht said Thursday.

Hecht said he was amazed that Kerry acted so quickly -- some people were assuming that he was having a heart attack.

"He knew exactly what to do," he said. "But a lot of people know what to do. They just don't size up the situation immediately."

The story has a twist of irony: Hecht was up for re-election that year, and Kerry, who was serving as the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, had pegged Hecht as one of the most vulnerable Republican seats.

Indeed, the Democratic nominee for Hecht's seat, then-Gov. Richard Bryan, beat Hecht, who served just one term in office.

"Only in America can this happen, where he's working against me to get me defeated and then saves my life," Hecht said.

Hecht, who prides himself on having one of the most conservative records on the books during his six years in the Senate, said he and his wife, Gail, see politics as "a secondary issue" when it comes to Kerry.

"We've had a wonderful life, and it would have all been down the tubes," said Hecht, who is about to celebrate his 45th wedding anniversary with his wife.

Every year the Hechts call Kerry's longtime personal secretary, who tracks down Kerry wherever he is.

Then they recount some of their experiences in the last year. Hecht and his wife thank Kerry for thinking so quickly in the Senate halls that day. And Kerry tells them that their phone call is one of his favorites of the year.

"He's so nice and appreciative," Hecht said.
As Digby notes, compare this with Bush reading "The Pet Goat" for 7 minutes after being told that the second plane had hit the WTC on 9/11.

Reading Roundup (And Some Clips)  

Back from Oklahoma and let's do a quick overview of stuff:

I'm reading Cass Sunnstein's The Second Bill of Rights: FDR'S Unfinished Revolution and Why We Need It More than Ever which is quite an interesting, albeit premature, tract. Until the country repudiates Bushism, FDR's most mainstream ideas are in far too much danger of extermination to focus on pushing an economic and social bill of rights. Good idea for next year (I hope).

A friend sent links to some cute movies. This mashup of the GOP convention speeches is one I haven't seen and it's great. And here's the already classic petulant Bush remix from debate 1.

Some short takes from the NY Times today:

Krugman gets off some good ones but misses the point. He correctly points out that Cheney is a phony:
Mr. Cheney's manufactured image is as much at odds with reality as Mr. Bush's. The vice president is portrayed as a hardheaded realist, someone you can trust with difficult decisions. But his actual record is one of irresponsibility and incompetence.

Case in point: Mr. Cheney completely misread the nature of the 2001 California energy crisis. Although he has stonewalled investigations into what went on in his task force, there's no real question that he placed his trust in the very companies whose market-rigging caused that crisis.
But then he gives Edwards a mission for tonite, to expose the "real" Dick Cheney. I really doubt that anyone needs to tell Edwards that. For surely Edwards will attack on Halliburton and Cheney's warped vision of reality about Iraq, the economy, etc. But inquiring minds want to know, How might Cheney respond? And most importantly, What can Edwards do to destroy the credibility of that response? Unless Edwards can land an effective second (and third punch), he can repeat Halliburton all night and it won't matter. Sadly, Krugman has no idea, but hopefully Edwards does.

This Times editorial gives the clearest reason yet why I started blogging:
...Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, had not only failed to keep the president from misleading the American people, but had also become the chief proponents of the "mushroom cloud" rhetoric.

Ms. Rice had access to all the reports debunking the tubes theory when she first talked about it publicly in September 2002. Yet last Sunday, Ms. Rice said that while she had been aware of a "dispute" about the tubes, she had not specifically known what it was about until after she had told the world that Saddam was building the bomb.

Ms. Rice's spokesman, Sean McCormack, said it was not her job to question intelligence reports or "to referee disputes in the intelligence community."
Since so many people like Rice thought it wasn't their job to read and evaluate information, both in the government and the press, I became alarmed 'cause, well, someone has to look at this stuff and come to an informed conclusion. Therefore, I started to blog. It's far from a perfect fix to Rice's laziness, as I am an amateur, as are almost all bloggers. But until the press and the government decide to report and govern with a modicum of insight and commonsense, there's nowhere else to turn.

A possible new GOP meme was floated in a bizarre letter to the editor. Sure, Kerry is competent, but he's just a paint-by-the-numbers guy. What we really need is a "creative artist" and George W. Bush is that man. Just what the world needs, Vincent Van Gogh negotiating with North Korea, or Fredric Remington with his hand on the nuclear trigger.

The GOP fights for their base: companies that cheat on taxes.
Despite widespread agreement that abusive tax shelters are costing the federal government billions of dollars a year, House Republicans are working to eliminate or dilute provisions in a new corporate tax bill aimed at cracking down on illegal shelters.

The provisions, opposed by a range of business lobbyists and tax lawyers, are part of a larger battle in Congress over how hard to attack the rapidly expanding use of complex transactions that turn real-world profits into tax-world losses.

The issue is coming to a boil in a House-Senate conference committee that Monday night resumed considering a corporate tax bill that would provide up to $170 billion in tax breaks.

Buried on page A16, in "Campaign Briefing," was the headline Business Professors Criticize Tax Cuts but at the time of this writing, I couldn't find it on the Times website (similar articles were not available either via google news). It reads in part:
More than 150 tenured professors at several top business schools have signed a letter that harshly criticizes President Bush's tax cuts and argues that "economic policy has taken a very dangerous turn" under his leadership...Nearly every major economic indicator has deterioriated since you took office in January 2001."
This letter was signed by professors at Harvard Business School, MIT, Wharton, and Fuqua. Hopefully, the article will appear online one of these days.

Meanwhile, the tenth soldier has been charged with murder for the death of Iraqis, this time for a general in custody. Just one more bad egg, I suppose.

Moving right along, The New York Review of Books has some good, bad, and strange articles this month. Good: Joan Didion on the 1984'ing of America. Bad: Stanley Hoffmann underestimates how bad Iraq is and proposes a totally unworkable plan.

Strange: Mark Lilla starts a two-part series examining the work and influence of Leo Strauss, claiming to debunk the conventional wisdom. It is said that Strauss hates the Enlightenment, liberal democracy, reads texts for esoteric meanings, and urges a return to Plato, whose texts are as literally true for Strauss as the Bible is for Pat Robertson. In fact, if one strips the rather interesting jargon from Lilla's article (fun words like "zetetic"), one learns that the conventional wisdom is crudely put, but essentially accurate. In an aside towards the end, Lilla even admits that Strauss's critics are right when they complain that Strauss completely misreads Maimonides and other writers. I'se like, "Huh? I thought you said the CW was wrong, Mark!" To his credit, poor Mr. Lilla has, apparently, ingested mass quantities of Strauss's writings. In German. Give the man a bratwurst.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Pride Goeth Before A Fall  

Being presently without my computers, it's a little difficult to keep to my normal blogging tizzy, but I do feel it is incumbent to sound a very serious warning. Simply because Kerry did so well in the first debate, and Bush did so poorly, that is no reason to think that the upcoming debates will be a slam dunk.

First, the VP mudfight. There is, of course, no comparison of the character of these two men. One is stupid and fearful who's view of reality is so poor he has made nothing but catastrophic decisions throughout his career, both for Halliburton and his country. The other is a brilliant lawyer who has made a fortune in a difficult and risky specialty.

While Edwards is tough as nails, he is also honest. Cheney, by contrast, is a sadistic liar. In the debate, Cheney is certain to be deeply in touch with his inner pitbull. He is interested in payback for the manhandling Kerry meted to Bush. And he will say anything, do anything to destroy Edwards. It is not at all clear whether Edwards can withstand Cheney at his worst, and guaranteed, Cheney will hit new lows on Tuesday.

As for the two remaining Bush/Kerry debates, I'm assuming they will not be cancelled for some trumped up reason by Bush. If that is the case, the vicious little child Bush showed the world in debate one is history. Bush has certainly been told never to behave like a petulant king who shouldn't have to be subjected to the indignity of defending his views to the riffraff.

No, we'll see a charming Bush, the aw shucks down home kinda guy who'd rather be clearing brush on his faux ranch, but by golly, God called him to lead the nation in this time of crisis and you jes' cannot refuse the Lord. Accuse me of class warfare? I just don't think like that!

Bush will also try to make some ridiculous redneck sentiment, like "I'm sure my opponent likes France's socialized medicine as much as he likes those lattes but..." which will enrage normal people, but are exactly the kinds of zingers his followers are thrive on.

On substance, Bush will be coached to focus on buzzwords and zingers. He either will avoid discussing any details (fuzzy math) or lie about the numbers. Meanwhile, he will claim that Kerry doesn't have a plan for the economy, and try to goad Kerry into a mind-numbing discourse on the nuances of taxation. The object: to search for a Kerry phrase that can be instantly distorted to Bush's advantage, and recycled endlessly in smearing, lying, ads.

Bush will also paint Kerry as a rich elitist. If Kerry mentions that it is Bush himself who is royalty, Bush will respond with a subtext with something like, yes, my family has money but we don't put on any big city airs about it. You won't catch me windsurfing. I don't have 6 houses. I haven't married an heiress, etc. As stupid as this topic is, it is one Kerry cannot win unless he brings up Vietnam (I didn't cower behind a rich man's connections to get out of duty: I volunteered and I came back wounded)which, I suspect, he doesn't want to get into.

In short, pride goeth before a fall. Bush and Cheney are losers, yes, but they are vicious bastards, and they are cornered. It is going to be an extremely difficult task to win these debates. Kerry did fine for a start. But he and Edwards now have to do a whole lot better.

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